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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: e-books

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For those who are considering self-publishing, there is an element almost as important as the writing itself, but it’s a bit of an unsung hero. Formatting.

Presentation is vital. Chefs get this. Fashion designers get this. Car dealers get this. So should we. This is our art, but what makes us professional is when we care enough to send the very best.

We live in the best time to be a writer. Paper is going away. Not all the way, of course. Yet, with digital devices taking over every aspect of our lives, we need to think like business people. In sales, we used to say, “Fish where the fish are.” With the mass influx of smart phones, tablets and e-readers, the most likely place a reader will consume our work is going to be via digital. Also, when one considers we now have entire generations where paper is an anomaly? Digital is critical.

Writers often make the mistake of believing readers (consumers) are like them. We can believe they love the smell of a bookstore, the feel of paper *shivers*. This is short-sighted considering that only roughly 8% of the literate population would list “reading” among the top ten hobbies.

In fact, every novel that’s ever broken records has managed to do the remarkable—hook people who normally believe they don’t like reading (interest the fat part of the bell curve). From Harry Potter to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, these books captured the attention of “non-readers” and that’s why they broke bank and made history.

We have a tough job as authors. We need to convince people to pay money and invest a minimum of twelve hours to do an activity they believe they do NOT enjoy. Yes, we can help this with a great story, but we must also remove what’s called friction.

Ah, friction. I’ll give an example. I loathe shopping for clothes with the power of a thousand suns. One time I saw a REALLY cute top on Facebook in my feed (one of those paid inserts). I did what I normally would NEVER do. I clicked. At this point, they’d pretty much made the sale.

But then, I had to create a log-in and then approve the password and then when I returned to the site? The shirt that captivated me was nowhere to be found and there were too many pages to search through. I deleted my account and will never return. Likely will never click on another clothing ad.

Why?

The retailer made the sale too HARD.

When it comes to our e-books, potential buyers will often look to the sample pages and, if the formatting looks like it was done by a one-eyed marsupial with a meth habit? Pass. Or maybe the consumer goes ahead and downloads or makes the purchase. Formatting is crucial.

In writing, anything that interrupts the fictive dream is BAD JUJUIf our formatting is a train wreck, odds are the reader won’t finish, let alone recommend. Also? People can give nasty reviews that have nothing to do with story, so why take the chance when that ticked off one-star review is completely avoidable?

This said, our job is to make sure everything goes as seamlessly as possible. We have two choices when we self-publish. Since we are taking on all the roles traditionally handled by a publisher, we can either learn to do it ourselves or hire a pro.

Even if we outsource, learning to do this on our own can help us be better at hiring good formatters since we understand the lingo and what to expect.

I rarely do this, but Kait Nolan is one of the most professional people I’ve ever worked with. She’s put together a fun list of 5 Things To Do Instead of Formatting EBooks. As a huge fan of outsourcing? I’m inclined to agree with her list and she is a PRO when it comes to formatting.

Take it away, Kait!

****

I have long been a proponent that formatting ebooks is not hard. I’ve talked at length elsewhere about why it’s important that you know how to do it (even if you hire out), and I even teach a class on exactly how to do it, step-by-step for those who have an industrious DIY spirit and want to learn. But despite all that, there is one incontrovertible truth about ebook formatting:

It’s a pain in the butt.

Formatting ebooks, particularly if you’re new to it, is a tedious and exacting process. Not HARD, but definitely time consuming. That’s where I come in. I format ebooks often, fast, and well–and you can hire me to take your manuscript and turn it into whatever form of ebook you want—from a basic “Meatgrinder” ready Smashwords file to every major file format available. Because I’m chained to a computer most days, I can generally offer quick turn around and ready answers to all your formatting questions. All that is to say that if you hire me, you can use your time for more important things.

  1. Instead of sorting out how you’re supposed to change out the 175,000 tab indents you used at the start of your paragraphs to correct paragraph styles, you can plot the demise of Julian Fellowes for daring to Do Something Horrible to the Adorable Bateses on Downton Abbey.

  2. Instead of digging into the code of the EPUB that Smashwords keeps rejecting to figure out what in the heck they’re talking about being wrong when the file clearly passes the IDPF validation test for EPUB 3, you can write a fanfic of the Olicity reunion that should TOTALLY happen in Season 3 of Arrow.
  3. Instead of beating your head against a wall trying to figure out why Kindle keeps indenting your block paragraphs even though they are set to block paragraphs, you can make a pie and enjoy it while watching the King of Pie Appreciation, Dean Winchester, in…pretty much any season of Supernatural (3 is my favorite).
  4. Instead of going through the whole nuking of your formatting to get rid of garbage code (and following that with tequila shooters because OMG), you can watch Pitch Perfect for the three hundredth time in preparation for getting Pitch Slapped in May. #AccaAwesome!
  5. Instead of getting an eye twitch trying to design an NCX table of contents from scratch, you can even be all responsible and stuff and use all the time you’ve saved to take care of the rest of your business concerns–promo, blog tours, writing the next book…or marathoning all of Firefly. Your call.

However you decide to spend all that freed up time, you won’t regret the investment in a professionally formatted product. So the next time you need a book formatted for publishing, look no further than The Forge Book Finishers for affordable ebook finishing.

~*~

headshot formal smallKait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. This Mississippi native has something for everyone, from short and sweet to Southern contemporary romance to action-packed paranormal—all featuring heroes you’d want to sweep you off your feet and rescue you from work-day drudgery. When not working or writing, Kait’s hanging out in her kitchen cooking and wishing life were a Broadway musical.

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Waaayyyy back in the Dark Ages of Publishing, I queried many, many…*sigh* many agents, only to be rejected. Then, I pitched a social media book for writers…and they laughed in my face. Social media is a fad. Authors only need a good book. Yup. Well, these are the same folks who are now requiring an author to have a strong social media platform and most won’t so much as look at a book if they can’t google an author’s name and have it show up (and show something vibrant and interesting).

Had it not been for the indie/e-book revolution, my first #1 best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and my second #1 best-selling book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, and now my new best-selling book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World would never have existed (let alone dominated the top three slots in multiple categories).

Thank you WANA and INDIE PUBLISHERS! *shout-out to Bob Mayer, Jen Talty & Cool Gus Publishing who took a chance on my first two books*

Aside from me (being a niche author), there were many traditionally authors who had extensive backlists (full of mega-successful books) who would have never made another dime off that work (and a lot are now making six and seven figures). There were also many authors who’d been rejected for years, who finally forged their own paths using e-books. Look up Romance Author Theresa Ragan. Theresa sold SO many books, that when NY came calling? She turned them down.

I wonder if she sent them a rejection letter with “does not fit my needs”? Hmmm, perhaps I should ask next time I see her :D.

There are also authors like John Locke who used e-book success to garner sweet publishing deals. Why am I mentioning this stuff? Because no matter what kind of author we are—traditional, indie, self-published? E-books are important. 

Yes, even if we traditionally publish. Right now NY can produce a book (maybe two) in a year. That’s a lifetime in the Digital World. What better way to keep fans excited than by publishing backstory, short stories, deleted scenes, stories involving supporting characters? This helps keep readers passionate so when your book is on the shelves? They are SO THERE.

Today, to talk about e-books and her own experience is Award-Winning Author (of TWENTY-SIX books) Amy Shojai…who happens to be a WANA International Instructor because I only want the best for you guys.

Take it away, Amy!

***

A few years ago, I had a high-profile agent, a spokesperson gig with a major pet products company, and a dozen award winning pet books published by “Noo Yawk” publishers. Oh, I worked my furry tail off for years to get there, but thought I’d finally arrived.

Before y’all decide to use my face on your personal dart board, you should know this: publishing went KER-FLOOEY!

I ended up back at square one. My agent couldn’t get a bite on any of my proposals. The spokesperson gig cancelled. My books got remaindered instead of renewed. All those backlist books, my retirement income (sob!), instead became dust bunny habitat under the bed.

Betcha you heard the booming echo of head-banging frustration where you lived. And you know what? “Noo Yawk” didn’t care. Tried a new agent and that didn’t work either. So I quit writing. I even took a real job . . .for about six months until I realized it doesn’t matter that “Noo Yawk” doesn’t care.

It only matters that I CARE.

Nobody cares more about YOU and your goals than YOU. So ya gotta be nice to you, treat you like royalty, and find ways to say “yes I can” instead of wallowing in “why I can’t.”

WHO ARE YOU, ANYWAY?

I am a writer. It’s not what I do, it’s who I am. But the “old Amy” no longer worked in the new world. Without an agent, I had nobody telling me “don’t bother, it won’t sell.” Without an editorial deadline, I had time to revise and update the latest, greatest information. And without that high-profile on-the-road gig, I could experiment with projects without concern it might hiss-off a sponsor.

So I reinvented myself first by kindle-izing my backlist books. That led to partnering with Jen Talty and Bob Mayer’s COOL GUS Publishing, creating my BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog (thank you Kristen!), voicing my own audio books, writing original titles and most recently a critically acclaimed dog-viewpoint THRILLERS WITH BITE series.

All because publishing went KER-FLOOEY. That’s a techie term. You have my permission to use it (I’m a writer, so I can make schtuff up).

BEYOND NaNoWriMo: KNOW YOUR OPTIONS

So, what does this have to do with you? Today there are fewer eyebrows raised toward hybrid/indie/self-pub authors than when I jumped off the digital cliff. The flood gates have opened.

Did you complete NaNoWriMo? Are you lined up at the starting gate, ready to pull the trigger on a spanking-new baby book?

Whether you plan to DIY Ebook, hire POD done, or choose a la carte services for cover design, publishing and more, LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Discover the options and make educated choices.

Because do-overs sucketh big time. This is why I am offering my:

EBOOK FOR WRITERS WEBINAR Dec. 7, 2-3:30 NY Time

Next Saturday, December 7, 2013, join my EBOOKS FOR WRITERS Webinar from 2-3:30 NY time for all the must-know options for publishing in today’s digital age. It’s only $40 (but you’ll get $10 off with the code GO INDIE). Register here.

No hotel, no travel, no makeup required! I love Webinars because I can wear jammies and have your cat or dog on my lap. The recording makes it possible to revisit the session later—especially helpful for those with a time conflict who live in, say, Australia. Or the wilds of Manhattan. And, if you aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger on your book, the session helps you figure out next steps when you ARE ready.

(Hint: Might be a cool early holiday gift for a writer in your life.)

The live Power Point presentation includes lots of SQUEEE! cute animal picture illustrations, answers your questions and gives you a life-preserver to keep you afloat as you dive off the self-publishing cliff. You will learn:
• Pros & Cons of Ebook Publishing compared to “Traditional”
• Options Available from DIY platforms to for-hire services
• Kinds of costs involved
• What you can (and should) do yourself
• What you should hire professionals to do
• Resources for helpful self-publishing software, editorial assistance and cover design help
• Practical step-by-step how-to “Kindle-ize” your manuscript
• Formatting tips for illustrations, covers, sidebars and table of contents
• Promotional must-knows including DO’s and DON’TS!
• Includes valuable links to further information, available as a down-load/handout.

I got to reinvent myself with help of others like Kristen Lamb who mentored me into creating a kick-ass BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD BLOG, so turn-about is fair play. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do. That’s one reason I jumped at the chance to guest here at Kristen’s amazing blog site. Good karma gets returned so find ways to pay-it-forward, let others know about the seminar (and discount code GO INDIE). You can thank me later ;).

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Welcome to the eighteenth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. My tips will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Hashtag Ho

Yes, Hashtag Ho. I thought Hashtag Hoarder might work, but Hashtag Ho was funnier. Oh, I have to be careful on this one, because I still am guilty of this if I am not careful. Hashtag Hoes loooove hashtags, and they use so many #s that the original message gets garbled and likely lost. (For those who don’t quite understand what #s do, go here).

#Writers! #Authors need to build a #social #media #platform to help sell #books and #ebooks and #manuscripts and make #friends so we can survive in #publishing. Go to my #blog about #blogging #pubtip #writegoal #writing #writer

I know that sometimes I have done this trying to make one tweet do ALL things, but I found I was missing the point when it came to Twitter. Twitter is about working as a team and building a group of friends we can count on to HELP us spread our message.

We are better off using only two or three #s, then having our community retweet (RT) and CHANGE the hashtags. Why? Well, there are a lot of people on Twitter who don’t know what the # does….so we probably just look like a lunatic with a Twitter virus that infests our messages with ##########. A good way to get unfollowed.

And others, who know what the # does might just see us as trying to take over as many # conversations as possible. In reality I think most of us are trying to be efficient, but we could be seen as rude. It is easy to forget that a message riddled with symbols might just get ignored because it isn’t easy to read.  I also think  one unintended consequence is that other people might be less likely to RT, because we already did everything ourselves. So the message ends up with far less momentum.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–The Hashtag Helper

Many of us probably would be less prone to be Hashtag Hoes if we could plug in with Hashtag Helpers. We wouldn’t be inclined to feel we needed to do EVERYTHING on our own. That has been one of the beautiful things about this new group #MyWANA. The entire purpose of #MyWANA is to boost and support each other, so I think this notion of being a Hashtag Helper has come more naturally for a group whose sole purpose is to serve each other.

Hashtag Helpers want to help others spread their influence. They know we cannot do everything alone, and this Twitter pal can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand. If they see our blog posted in #MyWANA, they immediately RT and CHANGE the hashtags so that other writing #s will benefit from the information. The incredible part of being a hashtag helper is it sets a good example. Many people on Twitter don’t think to CHANGE the hashtags.

Wow. We can really do that?

So when they see us being Hashtag Helpers, it inspires them to do the same. The more Hashtag Helpers we have on Twitter, the better place it will be for all.

Tweet ya later!

Before we get started, I would like to announce that my new book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer is now ready for purchase at B&N in e-book. This week, we are going to take a break from talking about the antagonist and, instead, focus on some common writing errors that seem to plague virtually all new writers. I generally like blogging about the larger issues, namely structure, because that is the killer. If the story’s plot is fatally flawed there’s little hope of connecting with a reader. If we need a Dungeon Master Guide and a team of sherpas to navigate our story’s plot, then finding an agent is the least of our worries. So plot matters, but, to be blunt, there other rookie mistakes that can land us in a slush pile before an agent (or reader) even gets far enough to notice a problem with plot.

So today I am putting on my editor’s hat and going to give you a peek into what agents and editors (and even readers) see in those first five pages that can make us lose interest.

If Your Novel has More Characters than the Cast of Ben Hur, You Might Need Revision

Whenever the author takes the time to name a character, that is a subtle clue to the reader that this is a major character and we need to pay attention. Think Hollywood and movies. If the credits roll and there is a named character in the credits, then we can rest assured this character had a speaking part. Many characters in our novels will be what Bob Mayer calls “spear carriers.” Spear carriers do not need names.

I did not know this, years ago, and I felt the need to name the pizza guy, the florist, the baker and the candlestick maker. Do NOT do this. When we name characters, it is telling our readers to care. Sort of like animals. Only name them if you plan on getting attached.

We do not have to know intimate life details about the waitress, the taxi driver or even the funeral director. Unless the character serves a role—protagonist, antagonist, allies, mentor, love interest, minions, etc.—you really don’t need to give them a name. They are props, not people.

And maybe your book has a large cast; that is okay. Don’t feel the need to introduce them all at once. If I have to keep up with 10 names on the first page, it’s confusing, ergo annoying. Readers (and agents) will feel the same way.

If Your Novel Dumps the Reader Right into Major Action, You Might Need Revision

Oh, there is no newbie blunder I didn’t make.

Angelique leaned out over the yawning chasm below, and yelled to Drake. She needed her twist-ties and fuzzy pink pipe cleaners if she ever was going to diffuse the bomb in time. Blood ran down her face as she reached out for Gregor’s hand. They only had minutes before Sondra would be back and then it would all be over for Fifi, Gerturde and Muffin.

Okay, I just smashed two into one. Your first question might be, Who the hell are these people? And likely your second question is Why do I care?

Thing is, you don’t care. You aren’t the writer who knows these characters and is vested. We have discussed before how Normal World plays a vital role in narrative structure. As an editor, if I see the main character sobbing at a funeral or a hospital or hanging over a shark tank by page three, that is a big red flag the writer doesn’t understand narrative structure.

Thing is, maybe you do. But, if we are new and unknown and querying agents, these guys get a lot of submissions. And, if our first five pages shout that we don’t understand narrative structure, our pages are likely to end up in the slush pile. When we are new, we get less leeway about trying to reinvent narrative structure, and the thing is, three-act structure has worked since Aristotle came up with it. There are better uses of time than us trying to totally remake dramatic structure.

It’s like the wheel. Round. It rolls. The wheel works. Don’t mess with the wheel. Don’t mess with narrative structure.

Some other picky no-nos… .

Painful and Alien Movement of Body Parts

Her eyes flew to the other end of the restaurant.

 His head followed her across the room.

All I have to say is… “Ouch.”

Make sure your character keeps all body parts attached. Her gaze can follow a person and so can her stare, but if her eyes follow…the carpet gets them fuzzy with dust bunnies and then they don’t slide back in her sockets as easily.

Too much Physiology…

Her heart pounded. Her heart hammered. Her pulse beat in her head. Her breath came in choking sobs.

After a page of this? I need a nap. After two pages? I need a drink. We can only take so much heart pounding, thrumming, hammering before we just get worn out.  That and I read a lot of entries where the character has her heart hammering so much, I am waiting for her to slip into cardiac arrest at any moment. Ease up on the physiology. Less is often more.

Adverbs are Evil…

Most of the time, adverbs are a no-no. Find a stronger verb instead of dressing up a weaker choice.

She stood quickly from her chair.

She bolted from her chair.

Also be careful of redundant adverbs.

She whispered quietly…

Um, duh. The verb whisper already tells me the volume level.

She can, however, whisper conspiratorially. Why? Because the adverb isn’t denoting something inherent in the verb. To whisper, by definition is to be quiet BUT not necessarily to conspire. The adverb conspiratorially indicates a certain quality to the whisper.

I will do more of these in the future, but the points I mentioned today are very common errors. Many editors and agents will look for these oopses to narrow down the stack of who to read. These are also habits that can frustrate readers should the book make it to publication. I know some of you are thinking of self-publishing and that is certainly a viable path these days. But, if we have 42 characters by page five? We are likely going to frustrate a reader.

Avoiding these pitfalls will make for far smoother, cleaner writing.

Some books to help you clean up your prose and become a master at your craft? Story Engineering by Larry Brooks is a MUST HAVE in your library. Another MUST HAVE reference?  102 solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer,

What are some troubles you guys have? Maybe some questions you want me to address? Throw them up here. Takes a load off my brain so I don’t have to think this stuff up all by myself. Any tips, suggestions, books you recommend we read? Did this blog help you? Confuse you?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

My book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media hit THREE best-seller list on Kindle yesterday. #2 in Computers & Technology, #13 in Authorship and #17 in Advertising. THANK YOU!!!!! This book is recommended by some of the biggest authors AND agents in New York, so make sure you pick up a copy if you don’t have one already.

Also, if you want to learn how to blog or even how to take your blogging to a level you never dreamed possible…get your copy of Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer  today. Not only will this book help you learn to blog, but you will be having so much fun, you will forget you were supposed to be learning.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

 

For years I had a problem. Shocking, right? Like most problems, if not dutifully guarded, it still can rear its ugly head and make a raging mess out of my heart, my attitude and my life. What is this problem?

The need to control.

In the not-so-distant-past my need for control often drove me to worry…a lot. To counter this worry, I planned for everything and felt I had to know every tiny detail and reason everything out ahead of time so I could limit any surprises. At first glance, that might not seem like such a bad habit. But, anything taken to extremes is always bad.

The thing is, I was trying to control every little detail and all the players so I could somehow fix the outcome, and the end result? I was a mess. Frequently, the people around me were a mess as well.

Eventually, it became clear that I had to learn to discern between things I could control and things I could not then focus on doing my responsibilities. See, before it was bad enough that I had to meddle, manipulate and plan, but then I made it even worse because I was using up my energies focusing on things I couldn’t control while shirking duties I could control.

An example:

Will e-books take over and drive traditional publishing out of business? Will it be business as usual and e-books won’t make a difference? Will small publishers reclaim lost territory?

Hold on. *consulting Magic 8 Ball*

Sorry, Magic 8 Ball says Reply hazy. Please try again.

This is exactly the sort of discussion that I would have jumped all over and worried about. But through grace and a lot of tenderizing, I am a bit smarter. I learned to look to the farmer.

The farmer? Yep.

The Apostle Paul compares the life of a Christian to three figures—the athlete, the soldier and the farmer. Something stuck with me about the farmer, and I didn’t really know why. I mean athletes and soldiers are way more glamorous and more my style. Yet the farmer kept popping up in the corners of my mind and convicting me of some really destructive behaviors, especially when it came to my writing journey.  Successful farmers, like successful writers, have similar demands, routines and character traits.

A farmer’s life is characterized the following ways:

Persevering Toil—farmers expect work and lots of it. They know that every crop has cycles that cannot be disrupted. The land must be cleared and plowed then seeds planted. Then as the seedlings grow, the farmer is not shocked to see more work in store. He accepts that he must water and fertilize and protect the growing crops. Once the crop has reached a certain stage, it’s finally time for harvest. Repeat.

Farmers work every day, not when they feel like it.

To be a successful writer, I must also expect work and lots of it. I must accept that every piece of work has a certain cycle and that if I skip stages there will be consequences that will be seen in my “crop.”

Whether books all go digital or stay in paper doesn’t really matter. My focus must be on the story. My “crop” remains unchanged. Regardless of whether books are paper or digital, written by hand or printed by lasers, it will all boil down to, “Did I write a great story that people will want to read?” To write this great story, I know there are steps to take, methods tested and proven to produce great writing—research, reading, planning, proofing, editing, etc. Even after I have “harvested” there is more work in store. I must take my product to market. This means blogging, social media, speaking, signings, etc.

Protracted Hours—Farmers are up before non-farmers and work longer hours than non-farmers if they hope to have a great harvest.

To be a successful writer, I must accept that long and wonky hours come with the career choice. I have a family and a day job and getting up early or working on weekends are part of the deal. Do I have to put in these wonky hours? No, there are no Writer Police who will drag me away for being lazy. But what kind of harvest can I expect if I treat my “farming” like a hobby and only do it when I am in the mood? Do farmers wait until they feel “inspired” to plow fields?

Periodic Disappointment—Farmers expect setbacks. There are storms and pests and molds that can ruin months of labor. Farmers plan for the worst and hope for the best, but they always return to the land.

As a writer, I have to expect set-backs and have a good attitude despite of my circumstances. Above all, I must consistently do my part….and return to the writing.

Trust & Patience—Farmers are a tremendous example in trust and patience. Farmers, despite technological advances still do what farmers did a thousand years ago, but on a larger scale with larger harvest. They trust the methods of the past, but don’t ignore the benefit of innovation. Farmers of today worry about weather, pestilence, and fluctuating market demand just like farmers did a thousand years ago, but they trust their hard work and planning to bear a harvest.

I heard a really great quote this morning, “Patience isn’t the ability to wait; it is your attitude while you are doing the waiting.” Wow.

I wanted to be a best-selling author like Dan Brown overnight. Writing, for me, has been an amazing teacher in patience, a character trait that, frankly, I still wonder if I even possess.

Writers today do the same thing as writers hundreds of years ago. We have to capture an audience’s attention and then keep their attention for the duration of our tale. We use characters, setting, narrative, dialogue, symbolism, etc. Like a farmer, the basics are still pretty much unchanged. Farmer— dirt, seeds, water and favorable weather. Writers—characters, plot, pacing, and favor from the audience.

Just like farmers have to grow crops comprised of tasty things people will want to eat (and part with their money to buy). I, too, as a writer must create a story people want to read (and part with their money to buy). To do this, I must trust time-proven methods while employing innovation and then have the patience to see everything through to publication.

Farmers have a healthy respect for the things beyond their control (storms, drought, pestilence, disease, market prices, competition, etc.). As a writer, I too need to possess a healthy respect for things beyond my control (agents, editors, publishing houses, contracts, distribution, rights, changes in the industry, changes in reader preferences).

There was a joke I heard about a delivery guy who stopped by a farmer’s home. Farmer Joe was sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch.

Delivery Man: So, Joe. Did you plant corn this year?

Farmer Joe: Nope. Worried that corn mold going around would ruin the crop.

Delivery Man: Did you plant wheat?

Farmer Joe: Nah. Market rates for wheat have been terrible. Worried I wouldn’t make a profit.

Delivery Man: Did you plant potatoes?

Farmer Joe: Oh, no. Was concerned the blight would get those.

Delivery Man: Well, what did you plant?

Farmer Joe: Planted myself right here in this chair.

As a writer I am blitzed daily with many things beyond my control. Are people reading less? Is the mid-list author disappearing? Will the bookstore be lost forever? Will traditional publishing collapse? But, while it is wise for me to be aware of my professional climate, there comes a time to say Enough.

I CAN control my attitude and that I am dutiful to do my part, every day in small ways. I have to trust that focusing on my responsibilities with a cheerful heart will one day bear harvest. I must expect work and lots of it. I must anticipate long and often weird hours. I must learn to trust the methods and be patient while waiting for success.

But add all of that together, and one day comes HARVEST!

Happy writing!

Until next time…

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And the mash-up…

Blatant self-promo first. Enjoy the blog? Well, buy the book! We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is a must-have for all writers who do not yet have a team of slick marketing people at their personal disposal. Building a platform is hard work. Do it the right way and the fun way. My method has been used by green peas and NY Times best-selling authors. My book is also highly recommended by literary agents and is regularly purchased by agents for their clients.

Need a great workshop?

Best-Selling Author Candace Havens’s on-line workshop teaches everything from plotting to editing. She also brings some of the industry’s best and brightest to make you guys the best writers you can be. I will be teaching about social media the first week of October beginning 10/4.

Ingrid Sundberg has TWO great blogs 12 Ways to Create Suspense and Demystifying the Graphic Novel

Writers Digest editor Janet Reid has an interesting blog How to Score a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing

Have to make your pitch the best it can be? Here’s a great blog by Jojo Pimp My Pitch

GREAT new blog series all writers should follow if they desire a career in writing. USA Today Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s Write It Forward. This week is Technology and Publishing Digital by guest-blogger Senior Design Engineer Eric Sidle.

Need a solid dose of inspiration? Read Author Jody Hedlund’s When It Looks Like We’re Headed for a Crash

Need a good laugh? Read…no SUBSCIBE to Tawna Fenske’s blog Don’t Pet Me I’m Writing or Author Piper Bayard’s blog Life, Bellydancing and Apocalyptic Annihilation